Badminton, Barbie dolls and lots and lots of books

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

Looking at my calendar, I see local students will be going back to school in just a few short weeks. &uot;Summer&uot; is not what it used to be when I was growing up; back then, you knew you had three months of vacation time to enjoy before returning to the classroom in September.

I know the ultimate aim is to go to more or less year-round school, with breaks sprinkled throughout the year.

The goal is for students to retain more knowledge in their noggins when they are away from the classroom. That would be a good thing.

I guess my sisters and I were very lucky, because we never seemed to have trouble getting back into the swing of things come each new school year.

In between sessions splashing around in the above-ground pool, playing badminton and eating fruit-flavored ice pops, we were still feeding our brains and imaginations, even if we weren’t sitting in a classroom.

We had our precious books to read and re-read, everything from classics by Louisa May Alcott and Dickens, to those frothy ’60s mysteries featuring Donna Parker, teen detective.

And let us not forget our comic books: Archie, Superman and those icky romantic ones thrilling to a pre-teen girl’s heart.

I signed up for Summer Weekly Reader and enjoyed a regular dose of interesting current events delivered to our house.

We also got publications like Life, Time and Look Magazine delivered to our mailbox. We might have lived out in the boonies, but we were in touch with the world, too.

And all our summer days weren’t spent on the farm.

We make trips to the mountains to visit Mama’s family in Tennessee, where we would sit on the porch swing at Aunt Ada’s, sipping Coca-Colas from ice-cold bottles and singing &uot;Love Potion Number Nine&uot; with our cousin James Merle.

There were day trips to the beach in Pensacola, with breakfast cooked under a pavilion. The scent of fresh, chocolate-covered raised donuts from the Krispy Kreme just down the road mingled with the smell of suntan lotion and salt water.

Back at the farmhouse, there were happy times spent playing with the family collection of Barbies, making mud pies and flying down the hill beside our house in my trusty Radio Flyer wagon.

Sometimes we got quite domestic.

My sister Sara and I made innumerable servings of chocolate and butterscotch pudding; I baked some pretty nifty creations with my Easy-Bake Oven, including a darling little cherry pie with a lattice crust (the first and last time, actually, that I made a pie with a lattice crust).

Don’t get me wrong. When September rolled around, we were certainly glad to return to school to see our classmates. We were ready for our summer hiatus to end.

But oh, how we looked forward to its return each June. I’m glad I have those memories.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at